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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 04/10/14

Thursday, April 10, 2014

THAIPUSAM IN PENANG AND MALAYSIA!




   Thaipusam  is Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). It is celebrated not only in countries where the Tamil community constitutes a majority, but also in countries where Tamil communities are smaller, such as MauritiusSingapore and Malaysia.  The word Thaipusam is derived from the month name Thai and Pusam, which refers to a star that is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a vel "spear" so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadam. There is a misconception among people that Thaipusam marks Murugan's birthday; however, it is believed that Vaikhasi Vishakam, which falls in the Vaikhasi month (May/June), is Murugan's birthday.

Origin

   Skanda (or Murugan) was created during one of the battles between the Asuras (or to be more specific Soorapadman) and the Devas. At one point, the latter were defeated several times by the former. The Devas were unable to resist the onslaught of the Asura forces. In despair, they approached Shiva and entreated to give them an able leader under whose heroic leadership they might obtain victory over the Asuras. They surrendered themselves completely and prayed to Shiva. Shiva granted their request by creating the mighty warrior, Skanda, out of his own power or Achintya Shakti. He at once assumed leadership of the celestial forces, inspired them and defeated the Asura forces and to recognize that day the people created the festival.






 Kavadi

   Devotees like Avinash Gooransingh prepare for the celebration by cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting approx-48 days before Thaipusam. Kavadi-bearers have to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the kavadi and at the time of offering it to Murugan. The kavadi-bearer observes celibacy and take only pure, Satvik food, once a day, while continuously thinking of God.
   On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of kavadi (burdens). At its simplest this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers is also common.


   Kavadi Attam is a dance performed by the devotees during the ceremonial worship of Murugan, the Tamil God of War.  It is often performed during the festival of Thaipusam and emphasizes debt bondage. The Kavadi itself is a physical burden through which the devotees implore for help from the God Murugan.
   Generally, Hindus take a vow to offer a kavadi to idol for the purpose of tiding over or averting a great calamity. For instance, if the devotee's son is laid up with a fatal disease, he would pray to Shanmuga to grant the boy a lease of life in return for which the devotee would take a vow to dedicate a kavadi to Him.

 Preparations


   The simplest kavadi is a semicircular decorated canopy supported by a wooden rod that is carried on the shoulders, to the temple. In addition, some have a small spear through their tongue, or a spear through the cheeks. The spear pierced through his tongue or cheeks reminds him constantly of Lord Murugan. It also prevents him from speaking and gives great power of endurance. Other types of kavadi involve hooks stuck into the back and either pulled by another walking behind or being hung from a decorated bullock cart or more recently a tractor, with the point of incisions of the hooks varying the level of pain. The greater the pain the more god-earned merit.

Celebrations

   In Palani, Tamil Nadu, India, Thousands of devotees flock to Palani and attend kavadi. According to palani.org, "The number of kavadis reaching Palani for Thai Pusam is about 10,000. For Pankuni Uttiram, 50,000 kavadis arrive. It is kavadi to your right, kavadi to your left, kavadi in front of you, kavadi behind you, kavadi above you and kavadi below you."
   In Vadalur (Cudalore dist.) near Neyveli, Saint Vallalar (1823–1874) (Ramalinga Adigalar)21-01-1872 Established Sathya Gnana Sabai,(Lotus Temple) inside he kept 7 Screens and Camphor lighted Jothi, every thaipoosam day early morning 6pm then 10pm,afternoon 1 pm then,evening 7 pm, then night 10 pm, and next day early morning 5.30,am like six time full screen Jothi Darisan showing,in this temple. and every monthly Poosam day evening 7 pm half screen Jothi Darshan performing.This was established in the year 1872,the Arutperumjothi Darshan. can be seen monthly once and Yearly six times only, The state Government Declare local Holiday for the cudalore district.





   In Haripad Subramayawsami Temple, Alapuzha, Kerala is famous for Kavadiyattom.Almost 5000 kavadis coming to the temple from many temples in the locality. garga
   In Vaikom, Kerala, India, Thai Pusam festival is conducted with Kaavadis at Udayanapuram Subramanya temple. Devotees take panchamritha kaavadi, paal kaavadi, bhasma kaavadi, etc.
   In Karamana, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, Thai Pusam festival is conducted at Satyavageeswara temple. The utsava moorthy is taken in procession on a vahanam (mount). There is nel(Paddy)parai alappu or Nel alavu, as a ritual performed for good luck and prosperity.





   In Nallur, Jaffna, Sri Lanka, Thai Pusam festival is conducted at Nallur Kandhasamy Temple. Many Tamil devotees irrespective of religion take part in celebrations. Even Tamils from Roman Catholic faith and Muslims take part in Thai Pusam celebrations and take Kavadis.

 Outside Tamil Nadu

   The largest Thaipusam celebrations take place in Mauritius, Malaysia and Singapore.  It is a public holiday in several states in Malaysia, including Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Perak, Johor, Sungai Petani and Kuala Lumpur.
   The temple at Batu Caves, near Kuala Lumpur, often attracts over one million devotees and tens of thousands of tourists.  The procession to the caves starts at the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur in the heart of the city and proceeds for 15 kilometers to the caves, an 8-hour journey culminating in a flight of 272 steps to the top. Thaipusam is also celebrated at another cave site, the Sri Subramaniar Temple in Gunong Cheroh, Ipoh, Perak and at the Nattukottai Chettiar Temple along Jalan Waterfall in Penang. Temple secretary P. Palaiya Sri Subramaniar Temple in Gunong Cheroh reported that about 250,000 devotees participated in the festival 2007, including 300 kavadi bearers, while 15,000 came with milk offerings.
   In Singapore, Hindu devotees start their procession at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in the early morning, carrying milk pots as offerings or attaching "kavadis" to their bodies.  The procession travels for 4 kilometres before finishing at the Tank Road Temple.











   Although rare, scenes of people from different ethnic groups and faiths bearing "kavadi" can also be seen in Malaysia. Thaipusam is also increasingly being celebrated by the ethnic Chinese in Singapore and Malaysia. 



THE TAKAYAMA FESTIVAL FROM JAPAN!!!



    The Takayama Festivals in Takayama, Japan, started in the 16th to 17th century. The origins of the festivals are unknown; however they are believed to have been started during the rule of the Kanamori family. Correspondence dated 1692, place the origin to 40 years prior to that date. One of the festivals is held on the 14th and 15th of April and the other on the 9th ad 10th of October.
    The Spring Takayama Festival is centered on the Hie Shrine. The shrine is also known as the Sanno Shrine, and the spring festival is also known as the Sanno Festival. The Sanno Festival is held to pray for a good harvest and the Autumn Festival is for giving thanks.







    The Autumn festival is centered on the Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine and is referred to as the Hachiman Festival. It is held after the crops are harvested. The fall festival is one of the three largest festivals in Japan. The other two are Kyoto's Gion Matsuri and the Chichibu Matsuri.





Floats

    The festivals are famous for the large ornate floats, or yatai, which roam around the city at night. The floats date back to the 17th century, and are decorated with intricate carving of gilded wood, and detailed metal work, rich design, similar in style to art from Kyoto during the Momoyama period, and blended with elements from the early Edo period. Detailed carving, lacquering and beautiful decorative metal works is found not only on the outside of the floats, but inside as well, under the roof and behind the panels, where the worked is amazingly detailed. The floats are also gorgeously decorated with embroidered drapery. The Uatai floats are lined up before dusk, and once the town become veiled in the evening darkness, as many as 100 chochin lanterns are lit on each of the floats. The unique ornaments of the yatai floats look even better in the darkness of the night. The floats are moved around the city by people but are wheeled carts and the bearers are not required to endure the load. The floats are lit by traditional lanterns and escorted on a tour of the city by people in traditional kimono or hakama dress. Each float reflects the district in Takayama to which it represents.







    The craftsmanship and the Hotei tai have intricate marionettes, which perform on top. The puppet show is a registered as a "cultural asset". The tall festive floats are displayed during the two days of both festivals. During inclement weather the floats are returned to their storage houses. The Takayama Matsuri Yatai Kaikan store four of the eleven fall floats; the others are stored in special storehouses throughout the city, when not in use. During inclement weather, the outer doors to the Yatai Kaikan are open so visitors may view them. The floats in the Yatai Kaikan are changed several times a year.






    The Yatai Kaikan is located in the northern end of Takayama's old town, a 15-20 minute walk from the station. The Yatai Kaikan is open from 8:30 am. to 5:00 p.m., from March to November and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from December to February. The admission fee is 840 yen (approximately $10.10)






Puppets

    The puppets or marionettes are made of wood, silk, and brocade or embroidered cloth. They are operated by strings and push rods from with the yatai. Karakuri (mechanical) puppet plays performed on a stage are superb. The puppets, like the Yatai, represent the skilled craftsmen of the area. The puppets or the three marionettes on Hotei Tai (the god of fortune), require nine puppet masters to manipulate the 36 strings which make the marionettes move in a lifelike manner, with gestures, turns, and other movements. A problem with the puppets are parts needed to repair the puppets. The springs in the puppets are made of Right whale baleen and cannot be replaced with steel springs or the baleen of other whales. Other materials used to make the springs cannot duplicate the movements of the springs made from the whale baleen.

CHOCOLATE MINT CUPCAKES!!


chocolate mint cupcakes


chocolate mint cupcakes


Chocolate Mint Cupcakes


YIELD: 3 dozen
Print Save Recipe

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 cups Andes Crème de Menthe baking chips
For the Mint Buttercream
4 sticks butter, softened
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 pounds powdered sugar
4-6 tablespoons milk

Directions:

For the Cupcakes

Line 3 dozen muffin cups with cupcake liners or grease using non-stick spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350F.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes, until it is pale and thick. Add in the butter. Mix until combined. Now, add in the buttermilk. Beat until well incorporated.
Add the flour mixture in 3 increments and beat until smooth. Stir in the Andes Crème de Menthe baking chips. Divide batter into the cupcake tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not over-bake. Remove from oven and let cool completely before frosting.
For the Buttercream:

Cream butter in electric mixer or using a stand mixer for 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Slowly add 1 cup sugar and beat until smooth. Add milk and mix until combined.
Add remaining confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until well incorporated. Add vanilla and peppermint extracts and food coloring (if desired), and mix at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
Add more cream or sugar as necessary to achieve proper consistency. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.

Notes:

To freeze frosted cupcakes, place cupcakes on a baking tray and freeze until solid. Then, place cupcakes inside a freezer safe plastic zip top bag or freezer safe plastic container. Return to the freezer. Alternately, you may freeze the cupcakes in this same method with our the frosting and then frost them later after they have thawed.